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Indian J Pediatr. 2013 Jul;80(7):576-84. doi: 10.1007/s12098-013-1016-9. Epub 2013 Apr 7.

Point of care investigations in pediatric care to improve health care in rural areas.

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  • 1Research and Development, PATH-India, A-9, Qutab Institutional Area, New Delhi 110016, India. waliakamini@yahoo.co.in

Abstract

The good quality laboratory services in developing countries are often limited to major urban centers. As a result, many commercially available high-quality diagnostic tests for infectious diseases are neither accessible nor affordable to patients in the rural areas. Health facilities in rural areas are compromised and this limits the usability and performance of the best medical diagnostic technologies in rural areas as they are designed for air-conditioned laboratories, refrigerated storage of chemicals, a constant supply of calibrators and reagents, stable electrical power, highly trained personnel and rapid transportation of samples. The advent of new technologies have allowed miniaturization and integration of complex functions, which has made it possible for sophisticated diagnostic tools to move out of the developed-world laboratory in the form of a "point of care"(POC) tests. Many diagnostic tests are being developed using these platforms. However, the challenge is to develop diagnostics which are inexpensive, rugged and well suited to the medical and social contexts of the developing world and do not compromise on accuracy and reliability. The already available POC tests which are reliable and affordable, like for HIV infection, malaria, syphilis, and some neglected tropical diseases, and POC tests being developed for other diseases if correctly used and effectively regulated after rigorous evaluation, have the potential to make a difference in clinical management and improve surveillance. In order to use these tests effectively they would need to be supported by technically competent manpower, availability of good-quality reagents, and healthcare providers who value and are able to interpret laboratory results to guide treatment; and a system for timely communication between the laboratory and the healthcare provider. Strengthening the laboratories at the rural level can enable utilization of these diagnostics for improving the diagnosis and management of infectious diseases among children which require prompt treatment and thus, considerably reduce morbidity and mortality among the pediatric age group.

PMID:
23564518
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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